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#88315 - 08/19/02 08:05 AM Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
Kickaha Offline
GB Special Events Reporter
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/27/01
Posts: 2451
Loc: Cambridge, England
If you have never played "Riven" then stop reading this review. Don't read any other reviews. Get hold of a copy of "Riven" and experience it for yourself. It is a unique a must-play game.

"Riven" is Cyan's 1997 sequel to "Myst" – the most famous and most successful Adventure game of all time. It is a photo-realistic adventure game played from a first person perspective. Like the original “Myst” the views are done as a slide-show, no 360 degree panning. The illusion of panning is given by the new view sliding the
old view off as you turn left or right. This doesn't work so well if the view includes something like a long straight pipe. The graphic quality is high, the rendering of the 3D models is still state of the art five years on.

There are several FMV sequences at major plot points and also as you operate the various devices you will encounter. These are done as insets on a top of a static background – sometimes the colours didn't quite match up for me with the background image. There is a certain amount of dialogue in the FMV sequences but most of the information about Riven you will find in various journals. Cyan have published a number of books relating to the Myst universe to fill out the history.

Your character is not identified in any way. For some people that is a big plus – it can really be you exploring the beautifully realised places of “Riven”. For me being an anonymous blob adds to the isolation of playing “Riven”, There's no real character interaction – Atrus and everyone else talks at you not with you. There's no conversation trees, you interact with the technology of Riven not with the people. The acting of the characters is so much restrained as to be symbolic not realistic.

(A review needs must be a very subjective document. I personally felt that Brad Dourif breathed life into his portrayal of Saavedro in “Myst III: Exile” whereas Rand Miller was just reading the lines for Atrus. Others just as validly found Dourif's acting over the top carpet eating stuff but identified with world maker Miller's portrayal of world maker Atrus.)

The story-line of “Riven” has Atrus from "Myst" sending you to "Riven" to rescue his wife Catherine from his father Gehn. There is one successful ending and several unsuccessful endings possible. But the focus of “Riven” is on a lonely exploration of a strange broken world. Slowly you learn how to get to more places in "Riven" and in that the game is firmly descended from the first text Adventure games. Slowly you piece together (with help if you're like me) how to solve the two puzzles. “Riven” only has two real puzzles to speak of but they are multi-stage elaborate recondite abstruse Torquemadan puzzles.

The puzzles involve careful observation to deduce how to manipulate the various devices you will encounter. There are no timed puzzles. There is some tone matching but the information got by matching the tones can be derived another way. The imagination and craftsmanship of Cyan shine here in the puzzle-world that is "Riven" … this is a feast for the eye and ear and mind. Thoughtful loving care has gone into this game as can be seen from the way the cables flex when you ride the cable car. Master craftsmanship.

“Riven” for me is a puzzle-world. For me. Others will disagree and see “Riven” as a real place which real people could live in. On that we'll just have to agree to differ. "Myst" to me clearly is a puzzle-world, not a real world you could envisage people living in. The worlds you encounter in "Myst 3: Exile" are stated to be contrived training worlds. "Riven"? I felt "Riven" to be a puzzle-world like "Myst". I did not get the buzz of feeling here I am wandering down an alien street.

What's must play about "Riven"? I probably seem to have rather negative about one of the great Adventure games. What Cyan have achieved here for me is a stupendous act of world building. From one island you can see the others. The graphics and sound and puzzles all slot together. Art and technology go hand in hand. It is an integral holistic experience. Other games settle for lots of small independent locations. "Riven" gives you a whole world. That is its greatness.

(Riven is available on CD and DVD. I played the DVD version. For Windows the requirements are Windows 95, 166MHZ Pentium, 16MB Ram, min 82MB hard disk space, 4X CD-rom or 2X DVD-rom drive, 640X480 display high-colour, DirectX compatible. For Mac PowerPC G3, OS 7.5 or 8.1, 16MB Ram, 84MB hard disk space, 4X CD-rom or 2X DVD-rom, 640X480 display, thousands of colours.)
Used to answer to "Peter Smith", now answers to "Peter Rootham-Smith"

#88316 - 08/19/02 09:19 AM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
gatorlaw Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 11/01/99
Posts: 10323
It is always a pleasure to read any of your thoughtful and well crafted pieces on adventure games and gaming. Well done - Peter. smile

I agree that it is often difficult to categorize a game or valuate it - I suppose. There are so many perspectives that come into people's personal preferences within a particular game or just games in general. I have to follow your reasoning and state with as much specificity as possible why I liked, disliked or even loved characters and such.

I was actually one of those who prefered the subtlty of Rand' performance in Exile - but I adored the game none the less. Riven is a great game. Ground breaking in so many ways.

Anyway - I think that every gamer will come away from your review with a greater appreciation for the game and the series. smile


#88317 - 08/19/02 08:02 PM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
MacDee Offline
Adept Boomer

Registered: 06/06/99
Posts: 14887
Loc: Battle Creek, Michigan
Bravo Peter! happydance A super review of Riven.
I'm one of the people that saw Riven as a "real place." I only wanted to live on one of the islands though. wink

I was amazed by the detail too. The first time I called the tram, I could see it coming way in the distance as the cables moved.

I remember how much fun you had with the "stone puzzle".... lol

Believe it or not, I have not played Exile. It just didn't grab me, but it's right here in the drawer, so maybe I'll try again soon. As for Myst....I should have played it before I played Riven. rolleyes


#88318 - 08/20/02 02:56 AM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
Kickaha Offline
GB Special Events Reporter
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/27/01
Posts: 2451
Loc: Cambridge, England
Thanks for the encouragement. You should have reviewed "Riven" yourself Dee ...

For every reader there's a different book. If nothing else what other books you've read colour your reading of a new book. For every player there's a different game. What other games you've played colour playing a new game.

Sad isn't it. We can't play "Riven" for the first time ever again.

Love, Peter.
Used to answer to "Peter Smith", now answers to "Peter Rootham-Smith"

#88319 - 08/20/02 10:56 PM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
granny Offline
BAAG Specialist

Registered: 08/27/99
Posts: 7408
Loc: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida USA
I will play it for the first time again in about another year. By that time I will have forgotten most of both the other times. As each memory is renewed, it will be like visiting a favorite old friend.
Granny Goodwitch

A woman NEVER shot a man while he was doing dishes!

#88320 - 08/26/02 05:39 PM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
ron.etti Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 06/10/01
Posts: 1345
Loc: McClure P.A. USA.
Peter i am one who would like to vacation there some day.
Your review was like going back to riven.I try to play riven
at least once a year.Maybe its time.......thanks ron.etti lol wink <img border="0" alt="woozy" title="" src="graemlins/woozy.gif" />

#88321 - 09/08/02 04:46 AM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
Hanksdog Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 07/21/02
Posts: 1318
Loc: Mandeville, LA
I'm an ordinary Joe...Someone who got swept up in Atrius' Tale of the brothers in Myst, the taking up a 'cause as he did against his father in Riven, (and ~Dee ...I implore you to play Exile) and the fight with his brother in Exile....
All this and more make me want to SEE another myst game...for some of us there can be no first time again, I am on the other's like a wave that breaks and then there is another wave, and it keeps on and on and on...
Cyan produced a great product...a neverland for adults....I will not play it once and say I've played it, put it on a shelf and forget it. I have played Myst several Times, Riven a couple and finished Exile about 3 months ago.....
I wil continue to play them if I have time!
And that's the key.....TIME...time enough for.....

Truly Enjoyed Your Point of View....
Ever Obediently....Hanksdog
P.S. It is only sick that we will never be able to come to Myst or Riven for the first time again. There wil be no more, and that's the sad, sick part.....(crying inside) frown frown frown frown frown <img border="0" title="" alt="[Razz]" src="tongue.gif" />
Overheard Titanic "What's the worst that can happen?" Rockafeller.Done Still Life, Myst 4/5 PLAYING NIBIRU, Next "And Then There Were None", RHEM 2.

#88322 - 09/09/02 06:41 AM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
girlgeek Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 06/16/02
Posts: 1957
Loc: Kansas City, Missouri, USA
I never finished Riven. I felt entirely LOST in it. And I don't mean lost in a GOOD way. The game world was huge, and I couldn't tell if what I was doing on one island or area was affecting anything else, and I just got completely tired of roaming around trying to figure it out. Perhaps I will return to this world eventually, but I still have to say: Myst didn't capture me, Riven left me lost and cold, Exile....Exile REALLY flipped MY switch. THAT was the ULTIMATE game for ME.
PLAYING ON PC: World of Warcraft...nothing else...there is no need for ANY other game when you have THIS one to play!! LOL

#88323 - 09/09/02 07:20 AM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
Kickaha Offline
GB Special Events Reporter
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/27/01
Posts: 2451
Loc: Cambridge, England
"Myst" and "Riven" are two games that left me cold the first time I played them. I gave up on both of them, "Riven" after just starting it when I gained an impression this was an impossibly hard game. It is too hard I think still but that's my opinion.

Coming back to them (after many moons) I got into them. I still prefer story games and regard these as puzzle games but did like playing them (apart from the musical sliders in "realMyst") and will replay them.

So perhaps in time if you don't like them now GirlGeek.

Regards, Peter.
Used to answer to "Peter Smith", now answers to "Peter Rootham-Smith"

#88324 - 09/09/02 10:24 AM Re: Riven: A personal reflection on a unique world
mszv Offline
Addicted Boomer

Registered: 03/18/02
Posts: 1565
Loc: Pennsylvania, USA (left my bel...
Hi all,
I loved Myst, and I like Myst III. On Riven, I share Girlgeek's opinions. I know Riven is very well loved by a number of adventure gamers on this board; people who like Riven tend to care very personally about it. Personally, I don't think Riven works well as a game. I do prefer my puzzles to be a bit more localized, I like to have more feedback that what I am doing affects the game. I also got a bit confused by all the islands. Although I like a game that looks like "one game" I thought many of the islands looked too similar to each other for me to separate them out in my mind. I also wanted more unique worlds - you know, the distinct worlds available through linking books. That's what's so great about a Myst series games.

Since I occasionally post on a Myst game series board, I finally took a walkthrough (actually a game guide book) and walked myself through it. Even then I had problems. Yeah, yeah, I know I didn't get the full game experience, but I least I got myself through the game.

I think Riven would work better as a movie. My theory is that this is what the developers really wanted to do. Riven was "designed and directed" by Robyn Miller and Richard Vender Wende. Rand Miller produced it. Richard Vender Wende came from animated films and Robyn Miller went off to do movies.
mszv, amarez in Myst Online (KI 89257)and my online worlds.

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